29 has been the most fulfilling and transformative year of my life yet.
After about 10 years of varying degrees of chronic pain and issues with gut health, fatigue and anxiety, I have finally made real steps (that I can see and feel!) toward a healthier, happier me.
These changes have been coming on rapid-fire over the past few months and are getting easier and easier to implement. I am amazed how simple it has been to continue to add more to my wellness routine now that I am not so depleted by debilitating levels of pain and fatigue.
With that being said, it was a hard fought battle including hundreds of hours of research, many false starts, and several setbacks to get to the place where I am today. Living with chronic pain, has shaped me into the person I am today, but it feels truly incredible to have less pain and more energy.
I hope that this article may give you some ideas or inspiration when developing your own unique wellness routine.
Everyone’s body and wellness journey is unique, so the following may or may not apply specifically to your situation. I can’t say exactly what habit/therapy/change helped me when, with what issue, and to what degree. But I can say that I feel strongly that it was a combination of many factors that helped.
I think this is a key component that is missing for so many of us with chronic pain—we are recommended and/or inspired to make one lifestyle/diet/exercise change, which is great. But that one change does not provide enough ammunition to overcome the multi-faceted reasons contributing to our chronic pain.
This is why things like: doing yoga, going gluten free or vegan, and meditating do not work for everyone.
These are all things that could be essential to your healing journey, but may not have helped you because they were done in isolation. For example, yoga will likely not be enough to overcome a poor diet and a stressed out mind.
Additionally, the changes listed above may have been done in a way that does not reflect their true healing potential. An example of this would be ignoring pain and moving beyond your limits in yoga and allowing perfectionist or competitive emotions into your practice. Another example might be “going vegan”, by cutting out all animal products, but continuing to eat processed foods like chips and oreos (all of which are vegan but will continue to keep your body in a state of inflammation when consumed at high volumes).
Remember that you need a holistic wellness routine, one that encompasses all areas that may be impacting your chronic pain. A plan that addresses:
- Nutrition: habits around eating, type and variety of foods you consume, hydration status, relationship to food/eating
- Stress management: financial, personal beliefs, relationships, work, environmental exposure, personality
- Exercise: mobility, stability, attitudes toward exercise, pain and other negative symptoms affecting your ability to exercise, poor posture
- Sleep quality and habits: lack of sleep, insomnia, discomfort when sleeping
- Support, purpose, and fulfillment in your life: both within yourself and in your relationships/social network
- Many more!
So in celebration of my last month before I turn 30, find below the list of 29 habits/therapies/changes that have made this my best year yet!
- Drinking 64 ounces or more of plain water per day
- Cutting out all grains
- Cutting out processed foods and added sugar
- Minimizing alcohol consumption significantly
- Adding supplements: Magnesium, B-complex, Omega 3, Multi-Vit, and D3
- Increasing my consumption of probiotics in various forms
- Increasing the amount of fat in my diet
- Learning to cook and eating majority of meals at home
- Going off hormonal birth control
- Utilizing THC/CBD for pain control primarily through medicated cream
- Float Therapy
- Myofascial Release – self treatment and with a practitioner
- Learning more about myself: through the Enneagram, Human Design, self reflection, journaling and embracing my intuition
- Meditating: guided, repeating mantras
- Breath work: belly breathing for 5 minutes or more to promote relaxation
- Journaling to express gratitude, to reflect, to remember
- Journaling to express anger, fear or other negative emotions
- Dry brushing and rebounding to promote lymphatic drainage
- Embracing stretching and walking as a healthy, gentle form of exercise for my body
- Reintroducing yoga gradually into my routine
- Talk Therapy
- Recognizing and reframing negative beliefs about my self worth
- Recognizing and replacing “numbing” escapes such as: constantly having TV on, excessive social media use, eating because I’m bored/stressed/sad, mindless shopping/spending
- Normalizing my sleep and wake times and getting at least 7 hours per night
- Diffusing essential oils each night by my bedside
- Using an air purifier in my bedroom
- Embracing and nourishing the loving, healthy relationships in my life and solidifying boundaries in those that do not serve me
- Creating this website and creating a space where I can work the way I want
Like I mentioned earlier, these changes are unique to me.
I think many of these things would not have helped if done in isolation. For instance, I tried going off hormonal birth control once before and it did NOT go well. At the time I had high levels of stress and my overall eating habits were not good. But with the addition of a whole foods diet and added supplements that allowed improve blood sugar stabilization and hormone support, I felt very positive changes this time around.
Many small changes led to a huge positive impact on my health.
Some of the above changes are quick, easy and free. Like drinking water, breath work and mediation. Others involved a greater time and money commitment like acupuncture and myofascial release, which I have had the privilege of being able to afford. Other changes like reframing negative beliefs and improving boundaries are a challenging and ongoing process that cannot be summarized well enough in list form, but remain important.
Find a way to make a wellness routine that works for you, depending on your current health situation, finances, and interests. Realize it is an ongoing evolving and expanding process.
Remember that positive changes, however small, lead to small (or large) improvements in the way you feel, which will lead to the motivation and energy to make more positive changes…and the beautiful healing cycle continues.